Terraforming Mars takes place in the future as humanity is beginning to colonize Mars. Large Corporations have been tasked to initiate huge projects to raise the temperature, the oxygen level, and the ocean coverage until the environment is habitable. You play one of those corporations and work together in this process, but compete for victory points that are awarded for your contribution to the terraforming, and doing other commendable things for the betterment of society..

Players acquire project cards by buying them. The projects will represent anything from introducing plant life or animals, hurling asteroids at the surface, building cities, to establishing greenhouse gas industries to heat up the atmosphere. The cards can give you a bonus right away, and/or increase your production of various resources. Some cards have requirements and will become usable as soon as the temperature, oxygen, or ocean increases enough.

Your basic score, is based on your Terraform Rating (starting at 20), which increases every time you raise one of either the temperature, oxygen, or ocean coverage. You will also acquire income, resources, and victory points with your production, cards, and other sources.

Each player keeps track of their production and resources on their player boards, and the game uses six types of resources: MegaCredits, Steel, Titanium, Plants, Energy, and Heat. On the game board, you compete for the best places for your city tiles, ocean tiles, and greenery tiles. You also compete for different Milestones and Awards worth more victory points.

When the three global parameters (temperature, oxygen, ocean) have all reached their goal, the terraforming is complete, and the game ends after that round. Players count their Terraform Rating and other VPs to determine the winning corporation.

At the moment this is one of my favourite games. I love cooperative games and for awhile the game feels like one even though in the end there can only be one winner. Everyone shares a common goal but how they go about that goal and what it means for their end game is what takes it from a co-op game to competitive. I’ve never been someone that really enjoy the ‘Take That” aspect of some games like Bang!, or Munchkin where everyone is gunning for you and trying to screw you up. You can enjoy your own little corner of the game and work on your production and terraforming project without fear of others destroying what you’ve worked so hard to achieve. And it really does feel like you are working towards your project, producing results, and achieving something. Regardless of where you finish in the game you feel like you did a good job and contributed. Another thing you will notice about this game is how good it looks and the production quality. Everything is high quality and looks beautiful. They have hundreds of cards each with their own artwork (which I imagine took awhile). When you have this game all setup on your table people will come by to look.

The only things that I don’t like as much is that because everyone is working on their own little project there isn’t a lot of room for interaction. The other thing is that eventually there will many different things you can do, and various pieces of your project that will need activating each turn which A: can make for slower turns, and B: can leave some with what is affectionately called Analysis Paralysis. (Analysis Paralysis (AP): When over-analysis and mini/maxing increase the downtime in a game beyond a desirable level.)

For the parents:

Violence: None

Sex: None

Swearing: None

Drinking or Drugs: None

Horror/Occult: None